ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday dealt a blow to President Asif Ali Zardari by suspending his media adviser Farahnaz Ispahani’s membership of the National Assembly (NA) for holding a US citizenship, and warned Interior Minister Rehman Malik over the matter too.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Mahmood Akhtar Naqvi, who alleged that Rehman Malik held British nationality, while Ispahani possessed US nationality.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry issued the direction while hearing the dual nationality case. However, Ispahani and her lawyer Wasim Sajjad were absent at the hearing. The court observed that Ispahani, wife of Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, could not be a part of the NA proceedings, including the upcoming budget session, citing concern over the contents of the US citizenship document. The SC noted that according to the document, a person has to renounce the citizenship of the country they were born in when they attain US nationality.
Moreover, the bench observed that being a foreign national, Ispahani could not be a Member of the National Assembly (MNA). “If we allow this lady MNA to sit in our assembly, she can also become the foreign minister or prime minister of Pakistan,” Justice Chaudhry remarked.
The court questioned why Ispahani had concealed her US nationality from the Election Commission of Pakistan, before filing her candidature for the NA. It went on to add that as such, she could be a US spy and “might have collected secret information regarding sensitive matters, particularly on defence and foreign matters. After seeing this oath of allegiance to the US, one cannot say that such a person can be loyal to any other country.”
Rehman Malik notified
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s lawyer failed to produce any evidence of Malik renouncing his British citizenship. Malik had submitted an affidavit before the court that he renounced his citizenship in 2008, but has failed to produce the required evidence thus far.
Malik’s lawyer, Chaudhry Azhar, tried to shift the court’s attention towards technical issues of the documentation. The bench did not accept this and reaffirmed that all he had to do was show the receipt of the payment made to forgo the citizenship. “We simply asked you to show us that receipt,” Chaudhry said.
Giving an extension to the interior minister as per his request to provide the receipt, the court warned that if he failed to provide it, his membership as MNA will also be suspended on May 30.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2012.